David Villa is arguably the best striker in the world at the moment. Granted, Wayne Rooney is off to an incredible start, but over the past few years, one could made a good case that David Villa has been the best pure striker and/or finisher in the game.
The interesting thing about Villa is that he has gone somewhat unnoticed during his career. He is the George Harrison of the football world. For as great as he’s been, he has spent much of his career playing second fiddle or headlining the second page. Yet like Harrison, he doesn’t seem to care.*
(They even sort of look like each other. Give Villa some more hair and Harrison a flavor savor and they could easily pass as brothers)
Any Beatles fan knows that Harrison was a brilliant musician. He was often the one learning new instruments and pushing the Beatles sound in new directions. Yet because he didn’t write as many songs or sing lead vocals, he wasn’t the face of the Beatles and wasn’t the one usually making headlines for the band.
Prior to his move to Barcelona, David Villa spent much a few years with Real Zaragoza and Valencia. He wasn’t in complete obscurity at Valencia. Any follower of La Liga knows how dominant he was. He alwyas finished in the top 5 in the league in goals and essentially carried Valencia each season. But while Villa was a prolific striker at Valencia and making his mark on La Liga, unfortunately for him, Valencia and La Liga, La Liga is a two-horse league and most of the world pays little to no attention to teams other than Real Madrid or Barcelona. It’s not that people don’t want to pay attention to other teams, but other La Liga clubs haven’t been competitive in La Liga or the Champions League. Villa was carrying Valencia and scoring at will against all opponents, and barely making headlines outside of Spain.
Even on the national team Villa is somewhat overlooked. Again, like Harrison, he’s not unnoticed. People know who David Villa is and respect his talent, just like Harrison. But when discussing Spain’s national team, the discussion usually starts with the dominant midfield of Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas. There is usually discussion of the captain, Iker Casillas and how great he is. Even if strikers are discussed, it is usually to talk about the under-performance of the barely alive Fernando Torres. Villa will usually be discussed, but rarely is the credit given to him even though he arguable carried the national team throughout the tournament. As great as the midfield was, Villa scored all their goals and got them to the final. Fitting for Villa though, the only game in which he doesn’t score is the final where Iniesta scored – once again bringing the attention back to the great midfield players.
The song remains the same at Barcelona. Last year Villa was a top-5 goal scorer in La Liga. He helped Barcelona win the Champions League with this brilliant goal against Manchester United in the final. he is finally on a club team that is making headlines across Europe and the world. Yet, whenever there is discussion about Barcelona, the discussion is always focused on the strong midfield (Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas again) and of course, the incredible Lionel Messi.
The hard part about the praise for the other players is that it is deserving. No one would argue that John Lennon and Paul McCartney don’t deserve the praise they receive (Ringo doesn’t deserved much praise, but he doesn’t really receive it either). John and Paul were brilliant songwriters and musicians. Xavi and Iniesta are arguably the best midfield duo in the world and possibly ever. Messi is the best player in the world and by the time his career is over he could be considered the greatest of all time. It’s no wonder that any player, including Villa, would be overshadowed by the current players on Barcelona.
George Harrison on his own was still a great musician and songwriter. He could survive and write music without the Beatles if he wanted, but seemed to enjoy being part of something greater and didn’t need the individual attention and glory that so many people require (see: Lennon, John and Ronaldo, Cristiano).
David Villa is the same way and he showed it yesterday against AC Milan in the Champions League. He doesn’t need other great players around him to score. He isn’t dependent on Xavi and Messi to score goals. He could leave Barcelona and demand to be the focal point of another club. But he doesn’t need or require that sort of attention and appears to be happy to be a contributing member of great club, even if he isn’t the face of it.
Yesterday’s goal from someone that was there (live soundtrack):
And here’s just a little something else:
*Full disclosure here: I’m a fan of the game and the Beatles, but I’m not claiming any sort of expertise on the personalities of David or George. I follow them and read about them, but I haven’t ever talked to them and don’t know them personally. Not that you do either.
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